The Spirit Gives Life

The Spirit Gives Life is a session built upon our new discipleship material, “Foundations for Life”. I’m currently writing a few chapters for my organisation Dignity. We have multiple authors from multiple backgrounds all callaborating to make a fantastic resource. As you can tell from the recording it’s really informal and the session would normally be done as a small group study in a village.

I’ve intentionally left the banter and interpretation in so you can get a feel for what speaking in Africa is like. This session is being translated into Bemba as I speak.

Also note, the importance of ‘story’ in speaking within Africa. The story of Faith and her sail in the Okavango Delta is designed to be memorable and a modern day parable of how the Spirit works in our lives.

Have a listen and visit another world!

Recorded at Dignity EQUIP Camp September 2016, Mkushi, Zambia.

© Jon Paul Witt and Dignity 2016.

© Image Copyright. Spyderonlines.com

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About Issachar

Chronicles 12 in the Bible introduces us to the Men of Issachar, people who could interpret the signs of the times around them and then crucially, also knew what they should do. They were wise men and practical men, which is a powerful combination.

Most of us in the church feel the opportunities and troubles of being a Christian in today’s world. Our public opportunities have become problematic. It is far harder today in Europe to say that Jesus is way to God. People think it far less relevant and even abhorrent. Secularism seems to be taking a hold and we play a poker game with intolerance masquerading as political correctness. We become silent and meek in the face of a difficult public response. Within Africa, the game is different but no less problematic. The church seems distracted by power and tied up in the affairs of state and despite its’ many strengths, seems to collectively lack the will to give away what it has for the sake of others. And yet, the Church is the people that comprise it, not the structure by which it manages people or hierarchy’s of leaders directing people. The people serving God are the very quality the very backbone the Church that Gid requires. A people serving Him.

There’s spirituality in abundance in just about any society, however it seems to be a god-less self serving spirituality. Ultimately it’s centred on our fulfilment. It’s not about us finding peace, or becoming more able, it’s supposed to be about finding rescue and salvation in God. We don’t seem happier for all of the self serving spirituality do we? As a society we generally seem worse off. We are busier, more hassled and we are never satisfied with anything. You could say we were lost…..

Worldwide, globalisation has led to a situation where similar experiences are traded between nations. For example, China’s huge economic growth and standards of living rises also fosters a consumer led self centred generation. Africa is the same. Ultimately it’s about our progression, a a bettering of ourselves, for our own aim. In each of these places, the gap between rich and poor has never been wider, the suffering of many is profound. Something is wrong. For some of us to be winners in this world, there must be resultant losers.

We’ve lost God, His Love and importantly his heart for people other than ourselves. Sin at its’ heart is also spelt ‘selfish’.

Trace the Men of Issachar elsewhere in Chronicles and Numbers and we discover that this tribe were also fighting men, people of capability and expertise. They had taken time to hone their skills and strengthen themselves for the battles that lay ahead. Not only were they able to interpret and understand the times about them, they were able to do something about it. We need to see what is happening around us and just like the Men of Issachar, find ways of doing something about it. That’s what it means to be involved in God’s mission.

Through the actions of everyday people, my aim and the aim of Dignity, the movement I lead is to bring people to Jesus and in doing so, make this world a more loving and generous place to be. In particular we need to commit ourselves to going to those difficult and out of the way places that are easily forgotten. We must make sure that we as a people lift up the lowly and vulnerable. If possible carrying them above ourselves.

We must commit ourselves to pioneering more, teaching more, educating and re-skilling people more, praying more, so that all of this can become a reality. For me, that doesn’t mean going to cities and busy areas where everyone else is, we need to deliberately choose to go to places that are not popular. We must be found on the single track roads not the busy motorways.

Just like the Men of Issachar, see the world around you, interpret it and do something about it. If you want to, get in touch! Seriously we need everyone we can find!

Mission for Everyone

This morning I’ve been for a walk in the what some would call, “the freezing cold wastelands of North Wales”. Yet it has snowed, it is icy and I love it! There’s something about the clarity and deadness of sound that fresh snow brings. You can see for miles and the snow deadens the noise of the world so everything seems pristine and tranquil. I can really think and see clearly!

I’ve been off for a few weeks and as well as getting on with some things other than ministry, I’ve been thinking and praying about what the future holds. I don’t know about you but I need threads, ideas and facts upon which I can base my future actions and movements upon. God understands this too. Faith is often not blind faith, principally it is faith in the one who calls us. He is totally reliable. In my experience faith is often not unrelated from the present either. The God who beckons us forward is the same God who has been preparing us, shaping our circumstances and leading us to the point where we may make a leap of faith or two. We notice the leaps but we seldom notice the quiet movement that the Spirit has been making behind the scenes for years.

There are all kinds of exciting ideas that I have looking at the future of Dignity, most of them are significant upgrades and developments of existing work. Yes there are some new leaps of faith as well. The one concept that we have always been about is that mission is for “everyday people”, wherever you are. We know the poor can be used mightily by God, how about everyone else? Over the years I’ve become experienced in cross cultural, rural and community based mission. Maybe it’s time to use some of these very hard learned lessons in equipping others and reaching others.

I do believe that God is moving anew in his people. Some of the ideas we have worked with for years are gaining traction in wider circles. There’s a revolution coming that doesn’t base itself on superstars in the faith, but on the church, a people, a mission for everyone. Whoever we are, wherever we are, we have a calling to serve, to reach out, to be Jesus to everyone we come across and to seek out those we don’t come across. We need to up our game in the forgotten and rural areas of this world. We need to reach more people and equip more people to reach others also. Simple really 🙂

Dr RT Kendall recently at The Evangelist’s Conference got all prophetic. Of course it was very biblical, he is a renowned theologian. However the sense of now-ness of what God is saying really spoke to me. “God will work through the faceless”. That phrase resonated with me powerfully. You can listen to the whole talk here.

Heidi Baker again not so long ago spoke about similar themes at a conference here in the UK.

Here’s an example of a call to action about mission and what God is doing from the leader of Ivy Church, Anthony Delaney. Ivy are the church that send Jude and I out on the ministry we have. Again, we are all needed and it’s about redoubling and focusing our efforts on the lost, together.

Whatever you think of the prophetic elements there’s one element that speaks to me loud and strong, God will move through ALL of his people. The Spirit will empower us to do this. The future of the church is for everyone to fight together in unity. For those of us who get a little twitchy at the sound of prophetic words and anointing let me remind you of something very rooted in the word. Isn’t that the point of the Body of Christ? We are meant to move together with Christ as our head. At the moment we have limbs all over the place. Arms flail in different directions, parts of the body who don’t know what they should do, everyone thinks they are the head…. it won’t do and I do believe God is calling time on this. What God will do is not new in the sense that we have not seen it before, but it will be in out time, in our generation, because let’s face it, his world needs it.

Are you one of the faceless? A person that has never been a superstar? Never called to the spiritual heights? Well that doesn’t really matter because God has a role for you, in his mission, in his plan to reach this world. That’s the move of the Spirit that’s coming.

If you need a few threads upon which to base your future, there’s some for you.

Don’t we understand? It’s a mission for everyone.

So if all I have said is true I wonder, what will our response be? Answers on a postcard please……

Maslow’s Hierarchy

Whatever part of me thought that it might be a good idea to build, whilst not having a permanent house and growing our work, needs to be taken out and shot! In the last few days I’ve rapidly formed the opinion that I cannot be superman and must go with the shape of life that we have here at the moment. Namely we have to get a house built!

The psychologist Maslow defined what he called a Hierarchy if Need. At the bottom are things like food and shelter, and the top, ah! I can’t remember but less important stuff. I’m telling you, I have been up and down that hierarchy quite a few times. At one point last week I had somewhere to live for 2 days, now it’s 3 weeks!! Although the person who was meant to be moving in to our house is in fact now not coming, so you never know…

Tack onto that thought the fact that Gods plans will happen anyway and that at least gives me a way forward. What do I mean by that? God has a plan that supersedes and takes our plans and situations into account. I really don’t know how he does it, but I’ve seen it time and time again. I sometimes wonder if God does his work despite me 🙂 this should mean I can focus on my current needs and leave Him to arrange the expansion of the work. After all, God can do it an awful lot better than I can.

That doesn’t mean I do nothing, just follow the leads and do what I can, when I can. Let me give you an example. Within 24 hours of being in the country Rammy had suggested that we look in Siavonga, which is on the border with Zambia and Lake Kariba. Unbeknown to him we had been thinking about a place to investigate in Southern Province. Then, because of my slightly mad life at the moment I figured that to send Bernard, not myself was a good idea. Unknown to me was that Bernard was about to talk to me about going to Siavonga anyway. Do you think we may be being pointed there? That’s what I mean when I say that the Lord has a way of making His plans happen.

So at the moment I’m slightly up in the air, grasping for support even more than a little overwhelmed but I do believe this is all somehow in Gods will. The bible says that the Lord orders the steps of a righteous man. At the moment I really should hold onto that for dear life.

Its going to take me quite a few weeks to climb Maslow’s Hierarchy again!